‘Couples Retreat’ More than Worth a Second Look on Home Video

Sunday, February 7, 2010
By Kevin Crossman

Vince Vaughn’s fall 2009 ensemble comedy Couples Retreat is hitting home video this week and offers an opportunity to catch-up with a film that didn’t catch fire among hardcore Frat Pack fans but should have.

Couples Retreat DVD

Couples Retreat DVD

Produced by Vaughn, who also served as a cowriter with Jon Favreau and Dana Fox, Couples Retreat features an all-star comedic lineup including Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Temuera Morrison, Jean Reno, Kali Hawk, and Carlos Ponce. Helming the picture is longtime Vaughn associate and first time feature director Peter Billingsley (who, sadly, does not cameo…). The DVD offers a chance to dig deeper into a picture that was made with a very specific purpose in mind from the creators.

If The Break-Up was the anti romantic-comedy, Couples Retreat offers a peek into the various kinds of relationships common to the approaching-40 demographic and puts them together both for a message of hope as well as for comedic effect. Vaughn and Malin Akerman play Dave and Ronnie, the “normal” couple with no major problems aside from potty training and kitchen redesigns. They’re approached by a rigidly programmed couple Jason and Cynthia (Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell), who are heading for divorce as a reaction to the stress of being unable to conceive. In order to save the marriage they want to enroll in an exclusive couples therapy program in Bora Bora. They can’t afford the program without a discount, so they need to bring three other couples. Add loveless couple Joey and Lucy (Jon Favreau and Kristin Davis) and a recently divorced Shane (Faizon Love) and his new young girlfriend Trudy (Kali Hawk) and faster than you can say plot device the four couples are in paradise.

The mechanics of the plot aren’t ground-breaking as pedestrian plot devices are thrown at the characters. However, once the players are set the comedic talent is in place for several comedic set-pieces. In addition to hilarious scenes featured in the trailer, such as an inappropriately touchy yoga instructor and an encounter with sharks, there are several other funny scenes. Jon Favreau continues his history of awkward cinema with a funny scene involving lotion and a bellhop. And the couples therapy scenes truly benefit from counselors played by the always funny John Michael Higgins and Ken Jeong.

Tropical DVD Menus

Tropical DVD Menus

The DVD menus will get you in the mood with tropical scenery and has some good features, including the requisite mix of behind the scenes features and deleted or alternate scenes. The highlight feature are some therapy out-takes that feature uncommon breaking by Vaughn and hilarious material that have you laughing and doing spit-takes. The commentary with Vaughn and Billingsley is fairly serious rather than party oriented as the two filmmakers do a good job explaining the rationale behind the mechanics of the plot and some details of the production. The commentary is interesting for fans of Vaughn, as it is clear that he, not director Billingsley, is Couples Retreat’s main man.

Though the film did good business, Couples Retreat was looked down upon by comedy hipsters. And while it isn’t ground-breaking cinema, there are some excellent performances worth seeing. Vaughn hasn’t been this funny since Wedding Crashers and each major cast member gets a moment to shine. Both Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell pull more than their weight being both funny and believable in tricky roles that could have been less than sympathetic. There’s something for everyone, though the film will likely strike the best chord with thirty and forty something couples.

Movie:
4

Extras:
3

Couples Retreat on Blu-ray Hi-Def and DVD arrives in stores on February 9 and comes with extensive bonus features including:

  • Feature Commentary with director Peter Billingsley and writer/producer/actor Vince Vaughn.
  • Alternate Ending – Back in Chicago: Watch with commentary from director Peter Billingsley and writer/producer/actor Vince Vaughn.
  • Gag Reel
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes featuring commentary from director Peter Billingsley and writer/producer/actor Vince Vaughn.
  • Therapy’s Greatest Hits: See the therapy sessions with the cast that you didn’t see in the film.
  • Paradise Found: Filming in Bora Bora: The cast and filmmakers share the various aspects of making the film on an island paradise.
  • Behind The Yoga: Go behind the scenes of the preparation, rehearsals and antics of the film’s hilarious yoga scene.

The following bonus features are exclusive to Blu-ray Hi-def:

  • U-Control: Video commentary with director Peter Billingsley and writer/producer/actor Vince Vaughn
  • Deleted Scenes: Watch additional deleted scenes exclusive to the Blu-ray.
  • Digital Copy:  Transfer Couples Retreat to your iPod, Mac or PC and experience it anywhere, anytime!

One Response to “‘Couples Retreat’ More than Worth a Second Look on Home Video”

  1. Pru

    The only feature commentary I can find on the blu-ray is the video commentary which cuts in and out while the film is playing. Is that how the audio commentary is on the dvd? The website says both features are supposed to be on the blu-ray. If the audio only is there I can’t find it. Peter and Vince do introduce the video commentary as being for the blu-ray, but I doubt they would’ve done two separate commentaries.

    #1327

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